One of the descriptive names of Succulents is ‘Hens and Chicks’. And while that term could be puzzling to someone not familiar with these plants, the nickname is actually fitting because of their amazing feature to ‘propagate’. Perhaps that is why their formal name is called ‘Sempervivum’, which means ‘to live forever’.
While I have only taken up Succulent gardening as a hobby nearly a year now, I would have the pleasant surprise to see that even after I planted my ‘base’ garden, I would come back to it sporadically every few months to see that baby ‘chicks’ have sprouted from the ‘hen’ plants. It is astounding how they can easily produce these miniatures, complete with roots, that are easy enough to pull from the main plant and be replanted in another container.
I have, in fact, taken the smallest chicks and placed them in several arrangements. Using rectangular glass jars (pieces I kept during my wedding bridal shower) and a round ceramic container that used to be a candle holder, I placed cacti planting soil, then put together a variety of the baby succulents. Then I covered the remaining vacant spaces with smooth garden pebbles. I made a total of 7, which became centerpieces for my patio table.
Then with the larger chicks and a few succulent cuttings, I designed their placement on larger pots for my front porch and backyard patio. The above photo shows my most recent creations, done this July 2014. But believe it or not, aside from these 4 pots, I have actually arranged 10 others…all succulents harvested from my main garden! Yes, they reproduce that much!
However, there is a tip of prudence my late horticulturalist Grandma Lory taught me (and re-emphasized by my Mom as I was growing up), and that is never let anything go to waste. I noticed that whenever I do a creative cluster of succulents, there are plenty of its ‘petals’ that drop off. I feel terrible about this, but lament that there is nothing I can do because this is the part where they are most fragile.
So I figure, why not keep these succulent droppings and try to grow their roots? Without doing any research, and just going by instinct, I started placing the petals on any of the potted arrangements. I would dip them into the moistened soil and cross my fingers that they can actually grow roots. Another technique I use is to place the larger petals in a shallow dish filled with water, but most of the time I prefer just dipping them into the soil.
Two weeks later I inspected the tiny petals and was completely amazed that they, in fact, had grown roots! So fascinating! They are the most low-maintenance plants I know and yet they reproduce from anything, whether it’s a small sprout from the mother hen, or from the petal droppings.
I would normally transfer the rooted petals into a potted plant. And because they are still very young, I water them more frequently than the bigger Succulents because I am trying to help their roots establish themselves.